On April 30, 1999, at 1052 eastern daylight time, a Piper PA-38, N2338D, was substantially damaged while landing to Runway 34 at the Manassas Regional Airport (HEF), Manassas, Virginia. The student pilot was not injured. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed for the solo instructional flight that originated at HEF, about 0830. No flight plan was filed for the flight conducted under 14 CFR Part 91.

The pilot was interviewed by telephone and he provided a written statement. He said the purpose of the flight was to practice takeoffs and landings as well as some in-flight maneuvers. The pilot said he flew approximately 2.5 hours before returning to Manassas.

The pilot monitored the Automated Terminal Information Service (ATIS) while approaching the airport. He said the wind speed concerned him until he heard the tower operator report calmer winds. In a written statement, the pilot said:

"I was pleasantly surprised that the crosswind was less than I expected and with little effort I was able to crab maintaining a straight approach. At approximately 20 feet above the ground and with the airspeed at 55 knots I used left rudder to align the nose with the centerline. At that time, I heard the stall warning horn and my impulse was to add power. I'm not sure if I ever actually pushed the throttle forward or not, but before the plane could have responded anyway, it dropped straight to the ground (it felt like the bottom just dropped out), hitting extremely hard approximately 8-10 feet from the end of the runway..."

According to the pilot, the nose gear collapsed, the propeller struck the runway and the airplane skid approximately 100 feet before it stopped.

In a telephone interview, the pilot said:

"The airplane was running very smooth, no problem at all. I think it was wind shear. I'm not experienced enough to know for sure, but from what I've read, that's what it seemed like. The bottom just dropped out. The stall warning was very brief and then nothing. I was on the ground."

The pilot said the ATIS reported winds from 070 degrees at 13 knots gusting to 18 knots, and the tower reported winds from 050 at 10 knots.

At 1055, winds reported at the Manassas Regional Airport were from 070 degrees at 6 knots, gusting to 14 knots.

The student pilot reported 64 hours of total flight experience, all of which was in the PA-38.

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